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10 December 2004

Working Families

Employers of the Year 2004

A varied range of winners from across all sectors have battled through a highly competitive field to be named as Employers of the Year at a London ceremony on 10 December.

 The Working Families (formerly Parents At Work) Employer of the Year Awards are designed to reward innovation and creative thinking in work-life balance, spread the word on good practice and encourage pioneering approaches to improving working lives and building business success. This year has seen a record number of entries from self-nominated organisations.

To find out more, go to: http://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/eya

The winners of the 2004 Awards are:

  • The Carers UK Carers in Employment Award, sponsored by BT: The Department for Constitutional Affairs
  • The Comet Men at Work Award: 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust
  • Lloyds TSB Scotland Scottish Employer of the Year Award: Lauder College
  • NSPCC Family Friendly Award, sponsored by Norman Broadbent: The Penguin Group
  • Working Families Innovation Award: MSN UK

Working Families Chief Executive Sarah Jackson said: "Our extremely varied group of winners are all convinced that work-life balance policies and practices have brought huge business benefits to their organisations. We look forward to celebrating their creativity and innovation at our Awards ceremony on December 10 and hope that their inspiring stories will galvanize all those employers who are yet to be persuaded."

The winners of the Employer of the Year Awards will be announced at a Gala Luncheon and Awards Ceremonyat Le Méridien, Piccadilly, in London on 10 December, 2004. The Awards will be presented by Lord Filkin, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education and Skills. Comedy writer and performer Arabella Weir will be the guest speaker.

  • The media are welcome to attend the morning presentations about the Awards and the drinks reception that follows, as well as the Awards Ceremony itself. Please contact Maggy Meade-King at Working Families on 0208 341 0708 or email [email protected]. if you would like to attend the presentations or ceremony.
  • High resolution images images will be available for the media to view and download free of charge from www.vismedia.co.uk from 5.00pm onwards on Friday, 10 December. Alternatively, please call Maggy Meade-King. A group shot of the winners will also be sent by isdn to national and regional titles on 10 December.

The winners:

The Department for Constitutional Affairs has established its own internal network for carers, arranging training, providing information and organising events for employees who care. The Network for Caring has three dedicated co-ordinators with counselling skills, two assistant co-ordinators and a full-time administrator. It raises awareness, organises manager training, provides mutual support, information and advice, and contributes to the development of new policies. The right to request flexible working has been extended to all staff. The Department has reaped the benefits of a loyal and caring workforce, who are less likely to call in sick when a caring emergency arises.

The 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust was determined, in a female-dominated workforce, to make sure that men’s caring responsibilities were taken as seriously as women’s. Its starting point was the need to think creatively around flexibility in a 24/7 working environment. Paternity leave is paid at two weeks’ full pay and taken up even by senior managers, as are the flexible working options. The Trust has a Worklife Balance Manager dedicated to supporting staff on these issues and she gives individual support to fathers on custody/guardianship issues. It has a five year strategy to become a ‘model employer’ and gives support and training to middle managers.

Lauder College has created a balanced, lifestyle-friendly culture which goes beyond family friendly or work-life balance. It is based on an ethos of supporting people and being inclusive. It offers flexi work and flexi leave options which can be tailored very personally. Its ‘lifestyle-friendly policy’ includes partner leave, 20 weeks parental leave for children up to 18 and a range of benefits and activities aimed at increasing flexibility and improving the morale and well being of staff. A key issue for the College is how to support and motivate staff involved with difficult student groups, such as prisoners and the long term unemployed. As a result, lecturers can decide when and where to work when they are not timetabled.

The Penguin Group has a well established, deeply-embedded family friendly culture. It has always had better than statutory maternity leave, there’s 30 days annual leave, four weeks paid paternity leave and up to 15 days compassionate leave for when children or their carers are sick. Its childcare allowance is weighted towards low paid parents and lone parents. Their flexible working policies are used at all levels of the organisation and four out of nine board members are women with families. The HR Director monitors the hours people are working and supports over any problems. Penguin knows it has recruited high flyers from competitors because of its policies.

MSN UK (part of global software giant Microsoft) has found that combating excessive working hours and ‘presenteeism’ has led to better staff morale and higher productivity. It now offers flexi hours, homeworking and sabbaticals and people rarely work after 6pm. Flexible working is now embedded in the business and permeates the whole organisation – 85% of MSN are now working flexibly, including 49% of men and all of the leadership team. Customer reaction has been positive and the business has grown by 66% since the changes. The project has been such a success that it is being rolled out globally around MSN and Microsoft – even in the US!

Notes for editors:

Working Families, formerly Parents At Work and New Ways to Work, is a campaigning charity which supports and gives a voice to working parents and carers. It also helps employers create workplaces which encourage work-life balance for everyone. In addition to the Awards, it also runs the Best Boss competition which celebrates individuals who have made a real difference to their employees’ working lives – the 2004 competition will be launched in January.

Lloyds TSB Scotland employs around 2000 people across Scotland and is proud of its achievements in promoting work-life balance and flexible working options to its staff. It is committed to facilitating the sharing of best practice nationwide, to enable Scotland to remain competitive in the European employment arena. For more information, visit www.lloydstsb.com

Comet has around 250 stores throughout the UK. It is committed to enabling its workforce to achieve a good balance between work and home and over the last four years have worked hard to develop policies and infrastructures to support this. The business benefits speak for themselves, with a significantly more engaged workforce and increased retention.

Carers UK is the UK’s leading organisation of and for carers. A registered charity, it provides information and support for carers, via free information leaflets and a free telephone helpline. Carers UK also carries out research and campaigns for better rights for carers, and has branches and members throughout the UK. Carers UK leads the ACE National project, an innovative partnership exploring ways of overcoming the barriers facing carers who work or want to work.

The NSPCC’s purpose is to end cruelty to children. Its vision is of a society where all children are loved, valued and able to fulfil their potential. It seeks to achieve cultural, social and political change – influencing legislation, policy, practice, attitudes and behaviours and delivering services for the benefit of children and young people.

For more information, contact:
Working Families: Maggy Meade-King on 0208 341 0708 or email [email protected]. On December 10, please call Maggy on 07712 674428 or Jonathan Swan on 07870 177096

Scottish Award: Laura Laird; Lloyds TSB Scotland Press Office on 0131 260 0392; [email protected]

Men at Work Award: Val Rushton or Fiona Hardman, Comet Press Desk on 07000 425 425.

Family Friendly Award: Lucia Hadjiconstanti, Media Officer, NSPCC on 020 7825 2962, out of hours mobile 07976 206 625 or email [email protected]

Carers Award: Patricia Orr, Third Sector PR on 020 7222 5510 or 07889 140 139

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